Felony larceny is a felony theft crime that can result in more severe penalties than petty theft or misdemeanor larceny. While the definition can vary amongst jurisdictions, most define larceny as unlawfully taking and carrying away another person’s property, while having an intent to permanently deprive the person of the property’s use. Another common name for felony theft is grand theft.

While larceny is generally considered a misdemeanor offense, certain factors can raise the level of theft to felony status in many jurisdictions. This includes the property’s value (generally over $1,000), prior criminal history of theft, and location of the theft.

For example, say someone went to a restaurant and stole another person’s purse. The purse contained cash and other contents valuing $1,500. The jurisdiction sets $1,000 as the minimum value of property to be considered felony larceny. As such, the offender can be charged with this crime as opposed to a misdemeanor.

What Happens After Someone is Arrested for Felony Larceny?

Building off of the scenario above with the purse theft, say the offender stole the property from a booth while the owner of the purse was in the restroom. The offender was able to leave the establishment without getting caught. However, surveillance cameras were able to get a clear view of the person’s face, and the police were able to identify the person due to their criminal history.

The police would then arrest the individual and take them into custody and start formal charges. Depending on the jurisdiction, the person may be released from custody or held for a bail hearing. If there is a bail hearing they would either get released without having to pay anything or released on bail, if they could afford the amount. If they could not make bail or the judge denied bail, the individual would wait in jail until trial.

Next, the person should consider seeking representation for the criminal charges. This could include seeking out a private attorney or getting a court appointed public defender. An attorney can help formulate a game plan for court appearances and ultimately trial, discuss any possible defenses that could limit or drop the charges, and attempt a plea deal to avoid trial.

If the case does go to trial and the defendant is found guilty of felony larceny, they will go before the judge for sentencing. The potential penalties for this crime are discussed in detail below.

What Are the Potential Penalties for Felony Larceny?

Misdemeanor larceny charges will result in lesser penalties like small fines or a minimal jail sentence (usually under a year). This will again depend on the jurisdiction’s laws and value of the property stolen.

However, felony charges for larceny will generally result in much more serious legal penalties. These can include a prison sentence over one year and higher fines. The level of penalty for felony larceny will generally be proportional to the value of the property. Courts will also often look to past criminal history of larceny and any other aggravating circumstances surrounding the crime.

Some jurisdictions also have specific categories for different degrees of larceny detailed in their laws. This could include different degrees of the offense (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), with 1st degree larceny being the most serious crime of the three.

In a jurisdiction that classifies felony larceny by degrees, each category will generally contain a certain dollar amount for each level of the crime. The penalty will then correspond with the level of the crime. Again, the monetary amount and available penalties will depend on the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed.

Other potential penalties for both misdemeanor and felony larceny include court ordered therapy, classes, or theft support groups. These punishments would be meant to help deter future behavior involving theft.

Are There Any Defenses to a Felony Larceny Charge?

It can be more difficult to defend felony theft charges since these crimes involve a higher amount of money. However, certain defenses may still be available to help limit or even drop the charges. These include:

  • Mistaken identity (the defendant claims they did not commit the crime);
  • No intent present during the offense (the defendant claims that they mistakenly took the property thinking it was their own); and
  • Lack of evidence (in the purse scenario above, if there were no security cameras or witnesses the prosecution would have a hard time proving that the defendant actually committed the crime).

These defenses, if applicable, can help a defendant get out of charges completely or at least limit penalties through a plea deal.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Criminal Charges of Felony Larceny?

Felony larceny is a very serious offense and be hard for a defendant to defend in court on their own, since it is a very fact specific crime. If you have been charged with felony larceny, you should look into hiring an experienced local criminal defense lawyer. A criminal defense attorney can represent you in court, analyze the facts of the case to formulate a strong defense, and create researched legal arguments on your behalf.